Some Ghanaian tertiary students have described the pause in education as a major setback as the country’s battle against coronavirus takes its toll, stuck at home with lectures on hold, graduation plans abandoned, many students fear the crises could have major implications on their education. For students who have a few months to complete school, being unable to finish up with their project work, they say this will affect their completion process, delaying the number of months left to complete school.
Ghana had its first COVID-19 case on the Thursday 12th of March 2020 announced by the Health Minister KwakuAgyemang-Manu . The President; H.E Nana AddoDankwaAkuffoAddo then addressed the nation after, in that address and the subsequent address on the Sunday the 15th of March, he announced the closure of all universities, secondary schools and basic schools beginning on the Monday the 16th of March. The closure of schools although beneficial as a way of preventing thespread, has had some sort of negative impact mostly on the students. The Ministry of Education, however introduced other ways to facilitate learning through traditional media, social media and online media.
Addressing the press on Tuesday 24thMarch , the Education Minister, Matthew OpokuPrempehsaid almost all the 5 Universities which are affiliating the 46 Colleges of education have many mothered systems employed to affect all the colleges of education.
“In the tertiary space, we did invite some of the Universities that were in close proximity to participate in the technical discussions and we realized that almost all the traditional universities have functional learning management systems which may require up skill in order to make the service available to students”.
This learning management system has had its positives and negatives as well as chilly experiences, this being the first time Ghana has had to employ a different strategy in ensuring that students go through effective learning amidst this plaque.
In an interview with a lecturer at the Ghana institute of journalism, Mr Stephen Tindi, he said, his experience with the online learning has been fun butchallenging, especially when he has to develop the platform himself, migrating student to a blog, and creating as well as sharing videos. He also said hisbiggest challenge is participation, that some students don’t get to participate and even if they do, at same time, due to the overflow of messages,the platform gets messy therefore, he loses some of the responses. He also spoke about complaints from some students about data challenges, where students can’t be available on time. He however suggested that the online platform should become a standard feature, the reason being that nobody knows when thispandemic will reoccur, therefore if there should be any reoccurrence, transitioning will be much easier and withoutchallenges. Adding to it, he suggested that digital literacy should be taken more seriously to help students find better ways of learning through the use online platforms,should we have challenges like we are having now, the transition to online media will be smooth. He advised that, it is important for us to bridge the infrastructure gap in terms of digital inequality in the country so that regardless of where students are, they can participate. He cited an instance where some of his students had to be excused becauseof movement to new locations on the outskirts of Accra and they anticipate that they will have data challenges.
Unhappy with the closure of schools, some students have expressed their displeasure concerning online studies, a student of the University of Education, Winneba; Dennis Koomson, said the effectiveness of online studies is not as effective as being in the class is.
“In the lecture hall, lecturers get time to explain things vividly unlike the online portal which lecturers put slides for us to discuss.
How can one contribute towards something he or shedoesn’t understand?
In fact the environment in the house is not conducive for learning.”
He added that network providers should ensure effective internet provision to enhance online studies. When asked about how the present situation was going to affect him he said
“I think it’s going to affect my internship badly in the sense that since the schools’ calendar is going to change so I won’t get enough time to train before internship, therefore I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get enough skills as I desire”.
A student of the technical university of cape coast; preferred to be known as Marry, has expressed her displeasure about her school not starting this exercise despite meetings held to begin with the exercise. However, she thinks the online media strategy wouldn’t help much due to technical difficulties like being phoneless and running out of data, considering some courses her school offers she deems it impossible for online learning to be efficient, she also thinks that there wouldn’t be a deeper understanding of lecture notes as compared to being in the lecture hall.
A student of the Ghana institute of journalism; Abdul- Lahie Abdul- Rahim NaaNinche voiced outhis difficulty adjusting with the situation due to technical issues, watching videos onlineand considering the bad internet connectivity in his community.
From Pentecost University College, Linda Yirenkyisays,her project work has been put to halt due to this effect.
“It has put my life on a standstill,I think when we get back to school we will rush things because time is already wastedand that going to put pressure on we the student since my school is not doing anything online”.
With fears of graduation late from school, a final year student of the Accra technical University Kelvin Abban thinks the directive will delay his graduation process with his projectwork held at a standstill due to his inability to get through with practical work.
“I think the school has put measures in place already but the problem here is Covid 19 restriction measures is going to delay me graduating,I learnt a new curriculum will be posted after the situation the country is in”
Like the President of Ghana said “these are not ordinary times” and things are difficult for us all. Therefore,I must recommend all the telecommunication networks who have helpedin the situation by providing access to educational related researches and individuals, NGO’s who have in one way or the other helped by distributing learning materials or providing other means of helping students in their studies.
Ghana Institute of Journalism.